Severe drought hurts Arkansas ranchers

Severe drought hurts Arkansas ranchers

(WMC-TV) – The state of Arkansas is fighting a severe drought. It is even claiming a disaster declaration.

If approved, it could help some Arkansas farmers with some much needed emergency loans.

Karen Haralson began raising cattle 3-decades ago. She said pastures on her Arkansas ranch have never been this brown and barren so early

"It's devastating, it looks like what I count as the desert," said Haralson.

Drought-like conditions are forcing Haralson to sell off 100 of her 250-head herd because she cannot afford to feed them.

The most severe drought in the state's history could soon claim careers ranchers have spent a lifetime building.

"If no significant rain comes, I'll just have to go out of business. I just don't have any grass and won't be able to afford hay prices," said Haralson.

While government scientists say more than half the U.S. is in some form of drought, the entire state of Arkansas is dry.

That is why you see farm equipment sitting idle. There is nothing to cut and bale.

The only real activity is at the sale barns, packed with ranchers selling off cattle.

If you buy Arkansas beef you could be affected too. Experts say drought conditions could raise beef prices by 10 percent over the next year and decrease the number of calves born.

"The bottom line is if we don't have cattle to produce calves we're not going to have a calf crop," said Pope Co. Ext. Agent Phillip Sims.

Matt Hoein moved his herd to more fertile fields but he is running out of those.

"The other option is just to quit. Sell out totally, but the hope is we'll get rain and this can quit in about to or three weeks," said Hoein.

But the sad truth is the forecast for the possibility of rain is cloudy.

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